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Archive for April, 2007

This past weekend, I went to a Fast Track to Cash Flow event.  This is a financial seminar put on by a Canadian affiliate of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series, and the goal of the seminar is to get people to think differently.

One of the exercises that the organizer of the event had people do is get us all to believe that it’s easier to raise money than it is to find a good deal.  In other words, raising money to invest in a deal is easy but finding that deal is tough.  So, if you find a good real estate investment property but don’t have enough money, you can joint venture with a bunch of other people to raise it and it should be no problem.

To prove his point, he asked for a few volunteers to go home that night and try to raise capital.  The pitch was that the volunteer was to phone people that they knew (family and/or friends) and say that if they could find an investment deal with positive cash flow, would they be interested in investing money with them on a joint venture?  Before I continue, dear reader, ask yourself the same question.  If I asked you the question: if I found an investment but didn’t have enough capital to finance it, would you consider joint venturing with me (ie, with me, Cool Spot)?

The organizer’s point the night before that these people would all have an easy time raising the money.  The next day they came back and all came up on stage and he asked them how it went.  All the people made a few phone calls, most to family but some to friends, and they had commitments for between $35,000 to $100,000, all in the span of 24 hours.  Indeed, that is impressive.

But is it?  I tend to be very skeptical.  While people say they are willing to do an investment deal, when it comes time to actually pony up, people have many more excuses than they do money.  I know, it’s happened before.  When I was starting an investment club at work, a lot of people were interested in it.  When it came time to actually put money down, the excuses for why they couldn’t do anything were flying about left, right and center.  They were buying a house, they had to pay off this debt, they had to pay off that debt, they didn’t have any money right now, etc, etc.  This happened over and over again.  My point is that it’s easy to raise soft money (money that people say they will give) but it’s hard to actually get them to open the purse strings.

While I think that going to friends and family to raise money can be a good idea, I think it makes more sense to go to friends and family who are already experienced investors and are used to putting money down.  These people, when they say they’ll put money up for a deal, will actually put money down on the deal.  They’ll come through.  Friends and family will be blinded by greed but reality sets in when it comes time to make a commitment.  Experienced investors will analyze the deal and make the commitment early on.  My second point is this – beware when you raise money because you haven’t raised it until you’ve actually raised it.

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I’ve been in Seattle on business this week and I believe I have set a personal record for the most number of meetings in one week.  In fact, I am absolutely certain I have set a new record.

This week I have attended twenty-one (21) meetings.  That is a whole heck of a lot.  While I did get a lot of stuff discussed I only got some stuff accomplished.  I guess it comes with the territory of being a Program Manager.

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In trading, the majority of my trades don’t really go anywhere.  Most of them float around between a return of -5% to +10%.  Google, American Oriental Bioengineering, Philadelphia Consolidated Holdings… all of those have return essentially flat ROI.

However, there is a small minority of trades that provide outstanding returns.  Intercontinental Exchange was up 100% for before retracing and is now at 60% (in six months), while Apple just released earnings and is now up 70% for me (in 9 months).  That’s not a bad return.  These two stocks have been leap-frogging each in terms of the most gain for me for several months.  It’s a game that I don’t mind them playing.

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I am back in Seattle on business again, my third trip there since September. Indeed, I have taken a number of trips in the past year, far more than my brother who does travel but only by train.

Anyhow, I was in the restaurant ordering breakfast and the manager came up with me and offered to start making my waffle (because I was waiting for the previous person’s waffle to finish cooking). I accepted, and then he pointed out that he remembered me from last time. Well, I remembered him from last time as well so we had a quick chat and then I went and got my waffle.

I can just imagine it now; I’ll be walking into the restaurant and say "Morning, everybody," and everyone turns and calls out, all at the same time "Cool Spot!"

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For the past four weeks or so, I have been working on a new effect that I am planning on performing at our club show on Sunday, May 6. The effect is coming together; I try to practice it once or twice a night, and a couple of times I record myself with a video camera and then play it back to see how it looks. Overall, it looks pretty good. When performed, it’s either going to be very funny or very stupid. I’m hoping it’s the former. I’m still waiting on a prop that I order a few weeks ago, if I don’t get it soon I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

While learning that effect, I’m also learning several other new ones. Excluding that one, I am currently working on five new effects. I’m quite excited about this because it’s been a long time since I actively tried to add new effects. I think I am going to start cataloguing everything that I know so I don’t forget them, that’s the biggest obstacle to learning new tricks. This summer, when I start performing on the street again, I aim to use between 1/3 and 1/2 new material (ie, never-before performed material). Should be pretty cool.

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This morning I went to go for an x-ray on my hip.  Contrary to my post title, the discomfort I am experiencing is not the worst pain ever but it is annoying.

After my near-death experience in Fiji, I had extensive bruising on my hips and lower back but I had incredible flexibility (but low mobility) in my legs.  As the bruises went away, I figured I was recovering completely.

The problem started in January.  I was standing and turned to walk towards the kitchen table when I felt a sharp pain in my upper leg.  It’s somewhat on the inside, the top of the hamstring but a little more inwards toward the body.  "That’s odd," I thought.  I’d never experienced that before.  I had been playing sponge hockey for several weeks and my mobility had never been impaired.  As time passed, the pain never really went away.  I have very little rotational movement in my left upper leg right near where it attaches to the body.  I have no discomfort in my right leg, only my left one.  It only occurs when I rotate my left to the left or to the right.  I can run normally because running does not involve rotating the hip.  But doing a standing crescent kick is totally out of the question.

I finally decided to go to a doctor and ask what was going on.  The leg clearly was not improving.  He sent me for an x-ray because the injury I described (no rotational movement in the hip) sounded very much like a hip injury.  Even though my original x-rays were negative, perhaps something had aggravated since then.

So, now I play the waiting game.  The x-rays are going to be forwarded to the doctor while I wait and see what the deal is.  At first I thought that it was muscle or tissue damage, but there’s a chance it’s arthritis (sigh) or more likely — some sort of hip injury.

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So, today I received another title change in my position at work.  I am now the Program Manager of Spam Effectiveness of Exchange Hosted Services.  This means that I am in charge of measuring how well each of our individual layers of anti-spam components are doing.  It also means that the day-to-day work of spam analysis no longer falls to me.

In reality, not much has changed.  I’ve been doing this job for a while now (5 or 6 months).  There two major changes:

  1. I now report to a different manager
  2. I have to travel to Seattle more often.

Notice that I didn’t mention anything to do with financial compensation.    That’s not because I didn’t get, but because I’m not saying either way whether or not it did happen.  I neither confirm nor deny.

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